But could City and School District fund position themselves, without a grant? Talks will continue Nov. 27
The return of a School Resource Officer buoyed by federal grant funds to the halls of Crookston Public Schools is not going to happen, after word was received this week that the City of Crookston’s COPS grant application to help fund an SRO was denied. But momentum continues to build for the City and Crookston School District to join forces and fund an SRO themselves.
District leaders, including some school board members and Superintendent Chris Bates, are expected to attend the Monday, Nov. 27 city council Ways & Means Committee meeting to further discuss the possibility of the two entities partnering to pay for an SRO position, which has been lacking in the school district for many years, after a previous 4-year COPS grant ran its course.
The City and School District have been positioning their budgets to have some funds available for an SRO in the event that the COPS grant was denied, but neither entity wanted to be too vocal about their efforts while the grant application was still pending because having enough local funding to fund an SRO entirely would have doomed the grant application for sure, City Administrator Shannon Stassen said.
Now that the grant has officially been denied, the City and district can work in earnest to see if they can make an SRO happen.
Crookston Police Chief Paul Biermaier, who submitted the COPS grant, cautioned officials in recent months to not get overly confident in its approval. The U.S. Department of Justice awards and administers the COPS grant program, and funding priorities for the grant program currently have SROs fourth on its priority list, after illegal immigration, homeland security and violent crime.
Had the COPS grant been awarded, the City and school district would have, in the first year, had to come up with 25 percent of the cost. In year two, the local share would have been 50 percent, followed by 75 percent in the third year. In the fourth and final year of the grant, the SRO would have been funded entirely by local dollars.
The City’s 2018 preliminary budget, which needs to be certified and approved by the council in December, currently contains $100,000 that could be spent on an SRO. If the two entities agree to work together to fund an SRO, the cost split will have to be figured out.
Many stakeholders, at least those willing to publicly offer their opinions on the subject, seem to agree that the widespread benefits of an SRO in the public schools during the school year and working in the community during the summer merit the investment of local dollars. Crookston High School Principal Eric Bubna and Highland School Principal Chris Trostad told council members recently that they support a return of an SRO to the schools, if funding could be found.